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Cabernet Sauvignon vs Cabernet Franc

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Similarities of Cabernet Sauvignon & Cabernet Franc

Cab Franc is often overlooked as merely a blending varietal but there are some amazing single varietals. It can also depend a lot on how it’s made. 100% of either, 80-20% blends, 75-25% blends. For the purposes of this article, we’ll just cover the main qualities and distinctions of each grape, knowing the different blend percentages may alter the attributes greatly.

It’s also important to know that the term ‘Cabernet’ typically refers to Cabernet Sauvignon. So if it isn’t specified Cabernet Franc or Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s safe to assume that the term is referring to Cabernet Sauvignon.

One other thing to consider, the Cabernet Sauvignon grape varietal was originally created as a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Hence the name was created by mixing Cabernet + Sauvignon.

Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc are the parent grapes to Cabernet Sauvignon. 

While Cabernet Sauvignon is often bolder and has more tannin than Cabernet Franc, both wines are pretty acidic.

Differences of Cabernet Sauvignon & Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Sauvignon typically grows better in warmer climates versus Cabernet Franc which grows better in cooler climates.

Cabernet Franc has a thinner grape skin, which produces a slightly lighter/softer wine with less tannins. It is not grown near as much as Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Franc is used in blends more often rather than having the wine made 100% of the single grape compared to Cabernet Sauvignon.

How To Distinguish Between Cabernet Sauvignon & Cabernet Franc

Typically Cabernet Sauvignon is bolder and has more tannins than a Cabernet Franc. It is often believed that Cabernet Sauvignon will have more complexity than a Cabernet Franc, although that is changing recently with some fantastic Cabernet Francs available in the market that can easily stand up to a Cab Sauvignon.

Usually Cabernet Sauvignon is darker than a Cabernet Franc, due to it being a more full-bodied wine.

Cabernet Sauvignon vs Cabernet Franc Comparison Chart

Characteristic Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc
Sweetness Dry Dry
Acidity Medium Medium-High
Tannins High Medium-High
Body Full Medium
Tasting Notes Black fruits – blackberry, black currants, black cherry. Green bell pepper, spice, tobacco, & vanilla. Red fruit flavors such as raspberry, cherry, and strawberry, bell pepper, savory elements like earth or crushed gravel.
Popularity 90,500 Monthly Searches 8,100 Monthly Searches

Pairing Food With Cabernet Sauvignon & Cabernet Franc

Another thing to consider when choosing between a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Cabernet Franc, is what food the wine will be paired with. In general a Cabernet Sauvignon is better for fattier cuts of meat, like a ribeye or beef brisket. Leaner cuts of steak like a sirloin or a pork chop would be better with a Cabernet Franc, so the wine doesn’t overpower the flavor of the meat.

Cabernet Sauvignon Food Pairing

Cabernet Franc Food Pairing

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